The Election Commission on Monday postponed the date of counting of votes in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa from March 4 to March 6.
It also decided to hold the U.P. first phase polls in 60 Assembly constituencies on March 3, along with polls for the Goa Assembly seats. Polling was originally scheduled for February 4.
The decision was made to provide a cushion period for getting reports from observers, re-polls, if any, and getting reports of any other election malpractices.
So, the first phase of U.P. polls will now become the last phase and the second phase the first.
Now, polls in the State will begin only on February 8 (instead of February 4) and the first notification will be issued on January 12.
Polls in two months
Elections to the 403 seats in the State will be held for two months — February 8, 11, 15, 19, 23, 28 and March 3 — in seven phases.
As per the revised schedule, the notification for the 60 constituencies will be issued on February 6 and the last date for the filing of nominations is February 13. The next day, the papers will be scrutinised and February 16 is the last for withdrawal of candidatures.
Deployment of forces
Meanwhile, Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi told The Hindu here that the new date had been fixed considering the time required for movement of central security forces and their deployment. There should also be a time gap available between the actual date of polling and the date of counting of votes, as EVMs had be to be transported from far-off places, checked and stored in strong rooms before being taken for counting.
Mr. Quraishi, who returned to the capital after touring Lucknow to review the poll preparedness along with the two Election Commissioners, said that during their meetings with representatives of political parties, officials and police officers, it was pointed out that though the date of “Barawafat” festival was notified as February 5 by the State government, there was a possibility that it could fall on February 4.
Further, the law and order enforcing agencies provided the Commission with fresh inputs with respect to maintenance of law and order, availability and movement of security forces, logistics and other issues.
The new date of polling in U.P. (March 3) was fixed based on a fresh assessment of the ground situation by the election machinery of the State and keeping in view the overall poll schedule in the five States.
Now, in the first phase (February 8), 55 constituencies will go to the polls. It will be 59, 56, 56, 49, 68 and 60 Assembly constituencies respectively in the remaining six phases till March 3.
Due to the latest decision, the voters of Manipur, Punjab and Uttarakhand have to wait till March 6 (though they would have voted by January 30) to know the fate of their favourites.